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Mont Dore/ Clermont Ferrand area or Vezelay/Avalian

Mont Dore/ Clermont Ferrand area or Vezelay/Avalian

Old May 5th, 2008, 06:39 PM
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Mont Dore/ Clermont Ferrand area or Vezelay/Avalian

We have 3 nights to spend in these 2 areas on our way from the Tarn Gorge back to the Brussels area. Which area is more interesting and worthy of the 2 night stay vs. only one night in the other area? We are more into scenery, chateux and quaint villages than museums or churches. Any reasonable hotels under 100 euro, preferably with a view or on a river? Thanks in advance for your ideas.
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Old May 5th, 2008, 08:08 PM
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The principal reason for visiting Vézélay is to see the splendid church of Ste. Mary Magdalene. If churches don't interest you, then Vézélay and Avallon probably aren't your cup of tea.

However, the Château de Tanlay might interest you; it's Renaissance rather than medieval and is well worth a visit.
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Old May 6th, 2008, 08:03 AM
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I would suggest that you spent 3 nights in just 1 area. There is plenty to see in both. We've spent 2 weeks in the Mt Dore area & 2 weeks in Burgundy.

Cities - by far, Burgundy has the nicer cities - Beaune, Dijon, Auxerre. Cleremont-Ferrand isn't that interesting, IMO.

Small village - both are somewhat lacking in cute small villages. Two or 3 in each area.

Chateaux - Both areas have lots of Chateaux. Mt Dore actually has more chateaux that you can visit than Burgundy. However, many are only open June-Aug - some stay open till mid Sept. www.route-chateaux-auvergne.org Burgundy - www.routedesducs.com

Scenery. We thought the Mont Dore had more dramatic & interesting scenery. Burgundy has lots of Vineyards which are pretty - but not as diversified terrain as Mt Dore.

Food - Burgundy by far. The Auvergne is known for not-so-great food - but we found 2-3 restaurants that were quite good - but not nearly as good as 6-7 others we dined at in Burgundy.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 6th, 2008, 09:28 AM
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Here is something I posted a while back about the Puy du Dome area (Mt Dore)

Here are some thoughts on the Puy de Dome.

In July ’06, we rented a Gite near Olby & spent two weeks exploring the area. In this region, the natural beauty is the main attraction. Compared to the villages & cities you’ve already visited in the Dordogne & Languedoc, the ones in the Puy de Dome are really not that interesting. Like I mentioned earlier, I would skip Cleremont-Ferrand entirely. Only old Montferrand was mildly worthwhile – but still nothing like Bordeaux, Perigueux, Sarlat, Toulouse, Albi, Pezanes, Bourges, or Troyes. When we were there, we visited about 15 chateaux, but unfortunately very few are open in May. I glanced at my “Route Historique des Chateaux d’Auvergene” brochure, and I found very few – if any - open in May. Here is their web site if you want to search for the few open

The Michelin Green Guide has many driving itineraries. Here are the sections we enjoyed the most
1. The D216/D27/D983 from the N89/E70/D941 intersection, past Orcival, all the way to le Mont Dore
2. The D983 from the above mentioned D216 to the N89.
3. The D922 from Tauves to Lagueuille
4. The small D640 from the D996, to the D150 to St Nectaire. This affords wonderful views of both St Nectaire & the distant ruins of Murol chateau.
5. The D36 from Besse en Chandesse to le Mont Dore.

Here are some of our favorite villages
1 Lavaudieu
2 Besse en Chandesse – probably the most interesting of the villages
3 Montpeyroux – this is an interesting village to explore. It’s right next to the freeway with a great view of it from the freeway
4 Brioude – interesting church also.
5 Blessle
6 Champeix
7 Billom – take the Michelin walk. Excellent Monday morning market. Nice store called Maison de Campagne on Rue Carnot

Some of our favorite sites
1 the Church at Orcival
2 Murol – it’s in ruins, but quite interesting.

The views from the top of the Puy de Dome are fantastic. We had dinner at the restaurant on top one evening, and watched a thunderstorm pass. If you get a chance, have dinner up at the top of the Puy. I’m a big foodie, and I expected the restaurant to be a little touristy – but it wasn’t. In fact, it was one of our 4 best meals in the region.

The other 3 best meals were l’Ours des Roches in Courteix near Pontgibaud, Radio in Chamaliers, & La Belle Meuniere in Royat.

Here are some drives/sites/villages we did not find as interesting as the Michelin Green Guide suggests
1. Gorges d’Aveze – especially if you visit the Gorges du Tarn.
2. The countryside east of the A75 freeway
3. Col de Ceyssat (too many tree trunks)
4. The Funiculaire du Capucin ride from Mt Dore. It was OK, but a little too time consuming

If I were to stay in one town, I would choose Besse en Chandesse. There are several Michelin listed hotels in town. Another option would be Mont Dore, but it’s a thermal/spa town and geared to that crowd. It’s somewhat interesting to visit, but I would not want to stay there. It seemed a little too “fake” to me. La Bourboule would be another choice, but it looked a little tattered & worn. Perhaps it was a more elegant town 100 years ago.

Here’s a nice itinerary to get to the Puy de Dome from le Puy en Velay.

Head northwest on the N102. Just past a large loop in the road, turn right on the D513 to Chavaniac Lafayette. The chateau there is the birthplace of the Marquis de La Fayette – who helped us in our war of independence. If you have time and the inclination, visit the chateau and the exhibits about the Marquis. It’s a self guided tour, and one of the few that’s open in May. It closes for lunch. I’m pretty sure they have a handout in English. After the chateau, head northwest on the small D21, through Paulhaguet, then on the D56 to Lavaudieu. Get out and explore this village – there’s a picture of it in the Michelin Guide. Continue on the D203/D20 to Brioude. This is kind of a perched town. You will first encounter a large parking lot. Park there & take the elevator up into town. We found the church there to be very interesting and a walk through town worthwhile also. See the Michelin Guide for suggested sites to visit in town.

After Brioude, gage the time, and perhaps visit Blesle if you have time & are not “villaged-out”. I would perhaps skip Blesle, and from Brioude, take the D5888 west and get on the freeway towards Cleremont Ferrand. Almost immediately, get off at exit # 17 and drive through St Germain-Lembron, head north a bit and turn left (west) on the small D125 to Chalus (note the chateau to your right), Villeneuve-Lembron (chateau not open in May), and then to Mareugheol, which is an interesting village. After Mareughol, head southwest on the D717, and then catch the D48 west and then the D32 northeast towards Vodable, then the D124/D23 north. At the larger D26 road at Chidrac, head west Besse en Chandesse – noting the interesting St Floret along the way. Most of the route I just described from St Germain to the D26 can be found in the Michelin Green Guide under “Issoire” It’s probably easier to follow the Green Guide’s description than mine.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 6th, 2008, 09:36 AM
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I have to respectfully disagree about the church in Vezelay being the only significant draw. The countryside is lovely, and the town of Vezelay itself is picture perfect. I am returning this summer just to spend more time in the area.

We are staying at the www.hotel-moulin-des-templiers.com/ which falls well within your price range, is on a small river, and comes recommended on Fodors. Just a short drive to Vezelay and Avallon.
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